Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton's managing partner Michael Gerstenzang.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton’s managing partner Michael Gerstenzang. (Courtesy photo)

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton announced Monday that the Wall Street firm has elected private funds partner Michael Gerstenzang as its new managing partner, effective Jan. 1, 2017.

In his new leadership role, Gerstenzang replaces Mark Leddy, who was named Cleary Gottlieb’s managing partner back in late 2010. Leddy, an antitrust partner who works out of Washington, D.C., will remain with the firm. He maintained his practice throughout his two terms as managing partner and will continue to help lead Cleary Gottlieb’s global antitrust practice.

Gerstenzang likened his new role to that of a “listener in chief,” whose job it is to speak with partners across the firm’s 16 offices to hear their concerns and “constantly reinforce the institutional glue and culture.”

That method of leadership is essentially how Cleary Gottlieb’s managing partner is selected, Gerstenzang said. Leddy and members of the executive committee engaged in a monthslong process of consulting with every partner in the 1,203-lawyer firm to develop a consensus around who should be the next leader.

Managing partners at Cleary Gottlieb are elected to three-year terms, and it’s typical for them to hold the top leadership role for two terms, as Leddy did, Gerstenzang said. There is a partnershipwide election, but it serves mainly to reflect and formalize the consensus that has already been developed internally.

“I doubt I will ever tell somebody what to do,” Gerstenzang said of his new position. Aside from his new administrative duties, he will continue with his current practice, just as Leddy and others before him.

Leddy replaced former Cleary Gottlieb partner Mark Walker, who had also served two terms in the firm’s top leadership role. Walker left Cleary Gottlieb for the investment bank Lazard Ltd. soon after being replaced as managing partner.

In a statement, Leddy said that Gerstenzang “embodies the internationalism that is at the core of our firm.” Gerstenzang organizes and advises credit, private equity, venture capital other types of funds.

Some of his major clients include The Blackstone Group LP, KKR & Co. LLP and TPG Capital Management LP, according to his firm biography page. After serving two clerkships, Gerstenzang has spent his entire career at Cleary Gottlieb. He worked in the firm’s Brussels office during the 1990s before relocating to New York.

Cleary Gottlieb had a record financial year in 2014 but saw gross revenue decline 3 percent in 2015 to $1.213 billion, while profits per partner dipped 4.7 percent to $3.08 million. Cleary Gottlieb’s management shakeup is the latest in a series of leadership changes at Am Law 100 firms in recent months.

Last week, K&L Gates announced that longtime chair Peter Kalis will step down next year. Venable also announced a new chairman and co-managing partners this year, while five partners are vying to replace McDermott Will & Emery’s co-chairmen. Meanwhile, Williams & Connolly’s executive committee chair Robert Barnett was succeeded in June by commercial litigation partner Dane Butswinkas.

Michael Gerstenzang will succeed Mark Leddy at the start of 2017.

Cleary Gottlieb Elects New Managing Partner